The Nelson County Service Authority is considering discontinuing its practice of adding fluoride to the county’s public water system.
George Miller, the authority’s executive director, said the authority was concerned about the cost of fluoridation and wanted more information on the cost and benefits of the program.
“I’m not saying that we don’t want to do fluoridation,” Miller said during the meeting. “But it is costing us money.”
Currently the authority adds fluoride to the county’s public water system, which serves more than 2,500 customers. This program costs about $10,000 a year, Miller said. In the previous fiscal year, the authority had received a grant from the Virginia Department of Health to offset those costs.
At the authority’s Aug. 18 meeting, members heard a presentation on public water fluoridation from Dr. Lisa Syrop, a representative of the Virginia Health Department’s Division of Dental Health.
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is added to more than 80 percent of public water systems in Virginia. The mineral aids in preventing tooth decay and improving oral health, Syrop said.
“Even in smaller communities, there is still a cost savings benefit (to adding fluoride),” she said.
In Virginia, it is not mandatory to add fluoride to public water systems.
Syrop said Nelson has no countywide dental program to do the same work that adding fluoride to the county’s water system would do.
“Before stopping water fluoridation, I hope you will consider — this is the best practice to help reduce dental care costs in the county,” Syrop said. “It flows to everybody. It helps the elderly and it helps the young.”
Authority chairman Russell Otis asked if the county could apply for grant funding again to help with the costs of water fluoridation.
Syrop said Nelson County could apply for grant funding again, but she would not know if funds were available until later this year.
Authority members agreed by consensus to take the information under advisement and continue discussion of the issue at a later date with more information on naturally occurring fluoride in county wells and the availability of grant funding.